Dermatitis is the technical result of coming into contact with poison ivy, oak or sumac. The good news is that the itching and red splotches and generally annoying and irritating time that you must deal with this kind of dermatitis is decently short in terms of its lifespan. The knowledge that the pain associated with poison ivy or sumac is not going to last very long is little comfort, however.
When you are trying to determine if you have actually come into contact with a poisonous plant that results in dermatitis, look for a rash to develop in about two days. This irritation will rise to a peak around the fifth day after the rash develops and in ten to fourteen days it will have started to reduce.
The treatment for exposure to poison sumac, oak or ivy ranges from well known and dependable types of topical medications to herbal assaults against the predator. The first line of defense for those not morally opposed to treatments that cannot be described as alternative are the big medications found in every pharmacy in America: benzocaine, hydrocortisone and antihistamine. You can buy these over the counter under a plethora of brand names, but they are all essentially the same. More robust developments associated with poisonous plants can include a cortisone shot from the doctor. A cortisone shot will relieve the pain caused by the itching, but is most effective only if received within 24 hours of exposure to the poison. A word of warning about using these common medications: don’t mix oral antihistamines with an antihistamine lotion as this could paradoxically result in the symptoms worsening.
Alternative treatments for exposure to poison ivy include identifying and locating impatiens that often grow adjacent to the ivy. The leaves of impatiens can be rubbed over the offending parts of the skin that got a little too close to poison ivy for comfort in an attempt to counterbalance the effects of urushiol which is the resin contained within the ivy that stimulates the reaction.
Another alternative treatment for poisonous ivy, sumac and oak is to mix a tablespoon of salt with half a cup of water to which is added cosmetic clay in an amount large enough so that the result is a paste. Squeeze a drop or two of oil of peppermint onto the paste and apply directly to the affected area. That clay could also be used in a mixture of goldenseal root power to create a topical treatment.
The most effective approach to dealing with exposure to poison oak, sumac or ivy is to immediately get yourself indoors and wash any exposed skin that might have come in contact with the plant with soap and water. You will have to be aggressive in this approach; that means continuous scrubbing of the skin for at least fifteen minutes. When blisters begin appearing on the area affected by the poison, you should cover the wounds with sterile gauze. Covering the wound will help keep the condition from spreading to other areas of your skin.
One final approach to treating poison ivy, oak or sumac will provide temporary relief from the itching, but must be done with care. Turn on a faucet so that the water pouring forth is hot enough for you to be able to place your affected skin beneath for about a minute or two. Make sure that the water is not so hot that it scalds, but it does need to be more than lukewarm. At first, running hot water over the poisoned area will result in an increase in itchiness, but the ultimate result is a few hours of life that will be free of the constant desire to scratch.